- The Washington Times - Tuesday, November 24, 2009

CLIMATE

U.S. to list goal on carbon dioxide

The United States, under pressure from other nations, will present a target for reducing carbon-dioxide emissions at next month’s climate conference in Copenhagen, Obama administration officials said Monday.

The development came as the European Union urged the United States and China to deliver greenhouse-gas emissions targets at the long-anticipated summit.

For nearly a year, the Obama administration has indicated it would eventually come up with specific targets for quick reductions in gases that purportedly cause global warming, as part of international negotiations. Those targets will soon be made public, officials said.

A senior administration official, briefing reporters only on the condition of anonymity in order to discuss the administration’s thinking, said that all countries, including the U.S., “will need to put their emissions targets on the table.”

SCIENCE

Mars map shows likely former ocean

A new detailed map of Mars shows what was likely a vast ocean in the north and valleys around the equator, suggesting that the planet once had a humid, rainy climate, according to research published Monday.

The computer-generated map, based on topographic data from NASA satellites, also shows that the network of valleys on the Red Planet is at least twice as extensive as previously estimated.

“The relatively high values over extended regions indicate the valleys originated by means of precipitation-fed runoff erosion - the same process that is responsible for formation of the bulk of valleys on our planet,” said Wei Luo, geography professor at Northern Illinois University, who co-authored the report.

“A single ocean in the Northern Hemisphere would explain why there is a southern limit to the presence of valley networks,” the scientist said.

“The southernmost regions of Mars, located farthest from the water reservoir, would get little rainfall and would develop no valleys. This would also explain why the valleys become shallower as you go from north to south, which is the case.”

Rain “would be mostly restricted to the area over the ocean and to the land surfaces in the immediate vicinity, which correlates with the beltlike pattern of valley dissection seen in our new map.”

The report appears in the Journal of Geophysical Research.

NEVADA

ACORN official wins probation

LAS VEGAS | A former Las Vegas supervisor for the political advocacy group ACORN was sentenced Monday to up to three years’ probation for his role in a plan to pay canvassers to register Nevada voters during last year’s presidential campaign.

“I just want to say I take responsibility for what I did,” Christopher Edwards told a judge who responded that he was “not pleased, to say the least” by charges that Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now (ACORN) paid bonuses to canvassers who collected 21 or more voter-registration cards in August and September 2008.

“I’m sorry. I truly am,” Edwards said, “and it will never happen again.”

In the end, Clark County District Court Judge Donald Mosley approved a state attorney general’s office plea agreement granting the 33-year-old Edwards probation in return for his testimony against ACORN and a former regional supervisor.

Judge Mosley also fined Edwards $500, ordered him to perform 16 hours of community service per month, and warned him that violating probation could put him in jail for a year.

DUI

Kerry’s daughter escapes charges

LOS ANGELES | Prosecutors say Sen. John Kerry’s eldest daughter won’t be charged with drunken driving in Los Angeles.

Police arrested Alexandra Kerry in Hollywood last week on suspicion that she was driving under the influence.

Los Angeles city attorney spokesman Frank Mateljan says prosecutors declined to pursue a case because of insufficient evidence. He says they didn’t offer further details.

A spokeswoman for Mr. Kerry said last week that the Massachusetts senator’s daughter was pulled over for an expired registration and released after a breathalyzer test showed her blood-alcohol level was under the legal limit.

Mr. Mateljan says Ms. Kerry isn’t facing any other charges. The 36-year-old has produced documentaries and has had several small acting roles.

EDUCATION

White House plans science fair

Hey kids, grab those beakers and petri dishes, the White House is going to hold a science fair.

President Obama said Monday he would convene a national science fair next year to honor young inventors with the same gusto that college and professional athletes celebrate their victories at the White House.

“You know, if you win the NCAA championship, you come to the White House,” Mr. Obama said. “Well, if you’re a young person, and you produce the best experiment or design, the best hardware or software, you ought to be recognized for that achievement, too. Scientists and engineers ought to stand side by side with athletes and entertainers as role models.”

He said they would show young students how “cool science can be.” He noted $260 million in companies’ donations to take science into more classrooms with television programs and celebrity science personalities.

The president made his remarks as he decried what he described as students’ lagging performance.

STATE DEPARTMENT

U.S. working on Iraqi elections

The United States is “deeply involved” in efforts to help Iraqi counterparts adopt an election law, but voting may be delayed, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton said Monday.

“We support the Iraqi government’s efforts to pass an election law so that they can proceed with planned elections,” Mrs. Clinton told reporters in Washington.

“We will continue working with all of the parties. Our ambassador, Chris Hill, on the ground has been deeply involved in doing so already,” she said.

“There’s a number of ideas that we will be presenting,” she added without elaborating.

“We have every reason to believe that elections will be held, which will be another milestone on the journey that Iraqis are taking toward full and comprehensive democracy.”

The election, the second national vote since the U.S.-led invasion of 2003 that ousted Saddam Hussein, is scheduled for mid-January, but cannot proceed until the election law receives presidential assent.

CONSUMER SAFETY

Millions of cribs being recalled

More than 2.1 million drop-side cribs by Stork Craft Manufacturing are being recalled, the biggest crib recall in U.S. history, after reports of four infant suffocations. Sales of the cribs being recalled go back to 1993.

The Consumer Product Safety Commission said Monday the recall involves 1.2 million cribs in the United States and almost 1 million in Canada, where Stork Craft is based. Nearly 150,000 of the cribs carry the Fisher-Price logo.

The CPSC said it is aware of four infants who suffocated in the drop-side cribs, which have a side that moves up and down to allow parents to lift children from the cribs more easily.

The Stork Craft cribs have had problems with their hardware, which can break, deform or become missing after years. CPSC said there can also be problems with assembly mistakes by the crib owner. These problems can cause the drop-side to detach, creating a dangerous space between the drop-side and the crib mattress, where a child can become trapped.

The commission is urging parents to stop using the cribs until receiving a free repair kit from Stork Craft.

The cribs were sold at major retailers, including BJ’s Wholesale Club, Sears and Wal-Mart stores and online through Target and Costco.

Consumers can contact the company at 877/274-0277 to order the free repair kit, or log on to www.storkcraft.com.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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